European knowledge on the world stage

Helen Carmichael/Helsinki, Finland 

Management of knowledge in terms of education, research and innovation will be crucial to how Europe competes on the world stage, according to Janez Potoc nik, European commissioner for science and research. 



Speaking at the Nanotechnology in northern Europe congress in Helsinki, Finland, last month, he said that Europe is in a 'relatively difficult position', with unemployment, an ageing population and modest economic growth to contend with, plus competition from traditional competitors and emerging economies. 

In terms of transnational research cooperation - the first pillar of the European Commission's seventh framework programme for research (FP7) proposals - universities, companies and the public sector across Europe must work together, Potoc nik said. The challenges ahead of us are 'so dramatically global', he said, 'that we should deal with them globally'.   

Potoc nik highlighted the need to create more and better jobs in Europe. Implementing the FP7 proposals will create nearly one million extra jobs in Europe by 2030, according to a recent European Commission impact assessment. The commissioner said that Europe could only 'compete with knowledge', because of its relatively high wage structure. Under FP7 proposals, excellence will be promoted through the new European Research Council for basic research, while researchers' training and career development will be supported through an enhanced 'Marie Curie' scheme. 

To boost the proportion of research funding from the private sector, the EU needs to improve incentives for companies investing in R&D in Europe, said the commissioner, adding that R&D investment by Europe's top 500 companies is decreasing, while research costs are increasing.   

Potoc nik warned delegates that the current approach 
to funding research is 'fragmented'.